A Chicago Cubs fan has been banned indefinitely from Wrigley Field after he was observed making an apparent “white power” gesture behind a black reporter during a live broadcast Tuesday.
An investigation into the incident determined the individual used “an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism,” Crane Kenney, the team’s president of business operations, said in a statement Wednesday.
As a result, the fan, who wasn’t identified in the statement, was reportedly sent a letter notifying him that he is no longer permitted on the field’s grounds or any other ticketed areas.
“After a review of last night’s broadcast footage, we concluded this individual’s actions violated the Guest Code of Conduct,” Kenney said in his statement. “We further communicated if he attempts to enter Wrigley Field or other ticketed areas he may be subject to prosecution for criminal trespass to property.”
During the Cubs’ home game Tuesday against the Miami Marlins, the white fan made what appeared to be the “OK” gesture with his left hand after realizing NBC Sports analyst Doug Glanville, who is black, was delivering an on-air broadcast in front of him.
Use of the “OK” gesture as a white supremacist symbol originated on 4chan, an internet forum popular with alt-right allies, as a hoax meant to troll liberal media. In February 2017, a 4chan user called for people to carry out “Operation O-KKK,” in which supporters were told to “flood twitter and other social media websites with spam claiming the OK hand sign is a symbol of white supremacy.”
Hoax perpetrators suggested the “W” shape made with the three upright fingers, and the circle made with the thumb and forefinger resembling the head of a “P,” stands for “white power,” according to the pitch.
It can no longer be passed off as a hoax or a troll. White nationalists and neo-Nazis have adopted the gesture as a white power symbol, often to signal their presence to like-minded people, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Glanville, a former MLB player, said he was made aware of the use of the “offensive hand gesture” after the broadcast segment and worked with the Cubs to investigate the matter.
“I applaud the responsiveness of both the Chicago Cubs organization and NBC Sports in investigating this matter,” he said in his statement. “They have displayed sensitivity as to how the implications of this would affect me as a person of color.”
Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, said during a press conference Wednesday that the fan in question would “never be welcome back” to Wrigley Field.
“We’ve made clear how egregious and unacceptable that behavior is,” Epstein said. “There’s no place for it in our society. … I think it’s important to have a strong response to send a message that this is a place of inclusion.”